t h a b o p i t s o: ‘scrap for cash’
Opening Thursday 3 December 2015
Concludes Saturday 16 January 2016
Shenaz Mahomed, Assistant Curator interviewed Pitso about his work and the exhibition.
SM: Please tell us a bit more about how your interest in mass media tools and objects (TV, radio, film, fashion, newspapers) as a medium of sculpture first developed?
TP: Mass media holds the power of persuasion and influences social conditioning in society. it is an amazing tool of propaganda. Through sculpture and installation work I aim to deconstruct the relationship between mass media and society, the virtual versus the visual relationship.
SM: Besides the cost factor, is there any conceptual reasoning behind finding your mediums in a scrap yard as opposed to using new objects?
TP: Discarded and thrown away objects hold a genuine human touch. The found object reveals the persona of its previous owner, which is very human. Found objects are more alive and contain the true sociological behaviour of having been used or touched as opposed to a brand new object that comes straight from a shop or factory.
SM: Looking at images from your residency at MOAD, I get the feeling that the experience of going to the scrap yard and rummaging through the scrap yourself was in a sense a performative procedure. Was it more about the process of making and less about the final result?
TP: The concept was to use mass produced objects that have been desired, bought, used and then discarded by the consumer living and working in the city of Johannesburg. I wanted to show the lifespan of the objects and the living process after having come into contact with a consumer. I wanted the objects to tell their own stories and journeys and a scrap yard or dumping sites houses an interaction that, in a way, reflect the communities where it is located. The working process and time spent during the residency was also a performance piece that was influenced by my movements, thought process, physical and mental debates and environmental realities.
SM: The title of the series is Scrap for Cash, what was the idea behind this?
TP: Scrap for cash is word play. It’s me mocking the behaviour of consumers. Mass produced objects that are thrown away after being bought for large amounts of cash shows in a way that one is actually throwing away lots of money. The once desirable, expensive object is now scrap because of its physical state or appearance. If the object is such a total human necessity, one would expect apt handing, care and appreciation for such a product.
SM: The works, although combined with various objects, seem to be sculpted in a very compact style, there is a certain orderliness to them. Is this done intentionally and thought out before hand or something that naturally developed whilst making the works?
TP: The minimalism movement has had influence on how I construct my sculpture and installation work. I liken my sense of order and structure to organised anarchy.
SM: Please tell us more about your work philosophy.
TP: Art has to be practical. Art is a way of life. My work has to be interactive, all-encompassing and informative. Most of all ART, has to be larger than life, larger than the artist creating the work. I work with mass produced objects and I work for societal change. I’m not creating art that is exclusive, for me it is always paramount that I have a relation with the objects I use to construct the sculptures with, ‘each one teach one’.
SM: What are some of the challenges you faced during the project/residency?
TP: Challenges included difficulties finding the right raw material (mass produced objects) that assumed the texture of trash/scrap. Other factors included transport logistics and not having enough working hours.
SM: Some of the works were created site specifically for the space at MOAD. How do you think the context of the work will change now being exhibited at Fried, seen as a traditional gallery space? Do you think the work will be received any differently?
TP: Only large installations were site specific. The sculptures I will be showing at Fried Contemporary form part of the smaller works that I produced, with a knowledge that they will be moved around and exhibited in other different spaces and galleries. I would also like to see how the Pretoria audience relate to this body of work.
SM: Besides sculpture, you work in the medium of painting and drawing as well. Which medium do you enjoy the most and why?
TP: Both drawing and mixed media painting appeal to me. I use ball pen drawing because of its intransience, the ink is bold, dark and I enjoy drawing or mixed media work that is line driven. Drawing allows me to write, to recite, and to entertain and a black pen gives colour to my soul.
About the Artist
Thabo Pitso (b. 1982) is the winner of the Southern Guild Awards 2014 in the category Future Found. As part of this Award MOAD is sponsoring him for a residency from 4 July to 15 August 2015.
Pitso uses sculpture and installation to visually document and present a study of how people interact and react to mass-produced objects (household products, clothes, cars, houses, etc).
Thabo Pitso lives and works in Pretoria. He was born in the small township of Itsoseng near Litchtenburg, North West Province. In 2007, he studied Fine & Applied Art at Tshwane University of Technology. He obtained his B-Tech in 2010.
About the Work
His work is very personal and abstract and is mostly about social conditions in everyday life. Through metaphors, he tries to deconstruct the social and personal meaning of objects. He is also exploring the role of different forms of propaganda in society, how social conditioning affects the way we are living. He does this by juxtaposing images and objects that have functional and dysfunctional relations with each other. He has a Minimalist approach to art and feels that it’s not about one’s nationality, culture or social group, but about one’s individuality.
Thabo is particularly interested in using Sculpture as a materialistic, interactive social observation. With each work he explores and exposes the repetitive social actions of people on a day-to-day basis. He is also interested in the use of mass media tools (TV, radio, film, fashion, newspapers) and how they create visual images that are systematically designed to influence, alter, control social and personal habits of a person. He seeks to explore the effects of mass media on the average person and how this social conditioning dictates the way people establish sentimental relationships with mass-produced objects.
He is interested in using and producing sculpture to deconstruct the relationship between human beings and mass-produced objects. He will be exploring these concepts through a variety of mediums and assemblage such as installation, construction of sculpture using assembled found objects, photography and video. He explores personal and cultural products and produces work that shows both inner narratives and social practices of mass-produced media Propaganda which is used to construct new meanings and materialistic senses.
As the winner of the 2014 Future Found Award, the works that Thabo would like to produce during the MOAD Residency will be site specific and shall include and incorporate active participating viewers. Participation will be direct and indirect. Executed in conventional and non-conventional forms. For these reasons he believes that this environment enables him to work towards creating an analytical body of work and to share information and ideas with communities and fellow artists.
First published online: http://www.moadjhb.com/residencies-at-moad-thabo-pitso/